The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is an exciting time, but from the crowded malls to the big online markdowns, a silent threat lurks – one with the ability to wipe out your good financial standing, and make it a not-so-jolly holiday for you and your family.
In the digital world, sharing your identity to obtain credit, make online holiday purchases or even receive coupons is commonplace and necessary – but it opens the door to new risks. Today, data breaches are frequent and they can put your personal information in the wrong hands, but there are a few steps to take that will help you safeguard your privacy.
Know where your information goes. Many online stores offer helpful apps for quicker, more efficient, holiday shopping. Before you download any app, make sure it comes from a reputable source. Copycat apps exist which, once downloaded, may capture your personal information and use it for fraudulent purchases. Overall, it is important to know where your information is being stored – whether on your device, the hard drive of your computer or in a file at home.
Be vigilant on public Wi-Fi. Do not transact on public-access Wi-Fi, and be wary of any passwords you enter. It’s always safer if you can wait until you get to a secure or private network.
Change passwords frequently. Make sure the passwords you use when setting up accounts with online merchants are complex and difficult for a thief to figure out. It is always a good idea to change passwords to all your accounts on a regular basis – especially with banks, email accounts and social networking sites.
Consider using a credit card. When you choose your debit card over your credit card, you may be exposing yourself to more risk. The most you’d have to pay for unauthorized use of your credit card is $50, no matter when you report it. If you report your debit card lost or stolen more than two days after you learn about the loss or theft you could lose up to $500. If you wait more than 60 days after your statement is sent, you could be out all the money taken from your account.